NDDC Acting MD, Daniel Pondei lists contracts allegedly paid for
Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Prof. Kemebradikumo Daniel Pondei, has listed some contracts the commission allegedly paid for under duress before its 2019 annual budget was approved.
Pondei who alleged that some lawmakers, especially members of adhoc Committees have held the Commission hostage over the years with the annual budget approval, also disclosed that they were arm-twisted to pay for some contracts that “were never done or sometimes, never completed.”
In a statement released by his Special Adviser on Media, Edgar Ebigoni, the contracts and benefiting firms were listed as follows;
Kith Global Ventures Ltd; Remedial Works at New Ogorode Roads Lot 3, at the cost of N493,684,169.00 and paid on the 17/03/2020, 301 Constr. Ltd; Remedial Works at Nja Road to Akoku Uno Lot 1, at the cost of N350,027,919.80 and paid on the 17/03/2020. Cracked Stone Constr. Ltd; Remedial Works at Ajaolubeti Road Environs Lot 2 at the cost of N394,010,952.10 and paid on the 17/03/2020. Collincrystal Energy Ltd; Emergency at Benin Township Road Lot 7, at the cost of N 431,053.035.20 and paid on the 17/03/2020. Collincrystal Energy Ltd; Emergency at Benin Township Road Lot 3, at the cost of N361,357,276.20 and paid on the 17/03/2020 and Grapik Ltd; Emergency at Umudee Internal Road, at the cost of N207,673,107.70 and paid the 17/03/2020.
Others were, Southland Constr. Ltd; Remedial Works at Umuduru Chukwu Umuorlu Road, at the cost of N518,409,089.30 and paid on paid on the17/03/2020. Southland Constr. Ltd; Remedial Works at Umuduru, at the cost of N519,949,949.10 and paid on the 17/03/2020.
Grandfox Global Services Ltd; Emergency at Ope Road Okigwe LGA, at the cost of N580,438,578.00 and paid on the 17/03/2020. Collincrystal Energy Ltd; Emergency at Benin Town Road Lot 6, at the cost of N348,853,184.60 and paid on the 7/03/2020 and Crism Constr. Building Ltd; Emergency at Eziama Osuama International Roads Isiala Mbano LGA, at the cost of N561,592,377.80 and paid on the17/03/2020.
Also paid were, Argento Ltd; Emergency at Benin Township Road Lot 4, at the cost of N382,805,411.60 and paid on the 18/03/2020. Two Rocks Cont. Ltd; Remedial Works at New Ogorode Road Lot 4, N500,875,848.00 and paid on the 18/03/2020. Elkan Zibson Ltd; Emergency Repairs of failed and unmotorable sections of Ezumoha Internal Roads Isiala Mbano LGA, at the cost of N531,150,414.29 and paid on the 19/03/2020. Cracked Stone Constr. Ltd; Remedial works on Failed and Unmotorable sections of Benin Township Road Lot 8, at the cost of N417,806,787.01 and paid on the 19/03/2020. PDH Global Logistics Ltd; Emergency Repairs of Failed and Unmotorable sections of Umuezuo Umuagbavu Road Remedy Failed and unmotorable sections of Chikwe Orlu Street Environment, at the cost of N543,247,587.35 and paid on the 20/03/2020. Aritel Oil and Gas; Remedy Failed and Motorable sections of Chikwe Orlu Street Environment, at the cost of N550,100,132.34 and paid on the 24/03/202.
Dis Concept and Solutions Ltd; Urgently Remedy Failed and Un motorable sections of Jessy and Jenny Road off peter Odily Road PHC, at the cost of N476,794,367.22 and paid on the 26/03/2020. Ogugo Concept and Solutions Ltd; Emergency Repairs of Failed and Unmotorable sections of Environs Yenagoa LGA, at the cost of N300,029,695.14 and paid on the 26/03/2020. Webster Global ventures Ltd; Instruction of emergency Repairs of failed and unmotorable sections Benin Township Road Lot 2 Oredo LGA, at the cost of N357,242,054.35 and paid on the 26/03/2020. Webster Global ventures Ltd; Remedial Works of Failed and unmotorable sections of Akuku Illah Road Oshimili North LGA, at the cost of N 463,489,890.13 and paid on the 26/03/2020 and Webster Global ventures Ltd; Remedial Works of failed and Unmotorable sections of New Ogorode Road Lot2 Sapele LGA, at the cost of N 466,416,380.71 and paid on the 26/03/2020.
The statement added;
“This blackmail scheme explains why the 2019 Budget of the NDDC was passed by the NASS Committee in March, 2020”, adding that, “we are talking about a budget that was billed to expire in May, 2020. This implication is that the management of the NDDC had only five weeks, to implement the budget of one fiscal year, and present a performance report on the same budget.
“This scheme has continued to play out, because as at this Month of August 2020, the budget of the NDDC for the 2020 fiscal year has not been passed by the Joint National Assembly Committee on NDDC. Sadly, nobody seems to care to ask questions because people are falling for the well-scripted smokescreen playing out in the two Chambers of the National Assembly.
“This document, is among the many others tendered before the NASS Committee, which never saw the light of the day, and which the NDDC Committee were never allowed to speak on, when they eventually appeared before the Committee, during the public hearing. It was based on this evidential claim that the IMC of NDDC staged a walk-out, on the first day they were to testify before the Committee.
“The details of this list can be verified from the Central Bank of Nigeria, through a Freedom Of Information (FOI) request.
“Indeed, the same allegation informed the reason all well-meaning Nigerians urged the Committee Chairman, Hon. Tunji-Ojo to recuse himself from the Chairmanship of that hearing. This is in keeping with the Nemo judex in causa sua, which is a Latin phrase that upholds the principle of natural justice that no one can judge a case in which they have an interest”.
“It is very unfortunate that against all objective appeals and moral persuasions, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, alongside some other accused members of the House Committee on NDDC, proceeded to hold a public hearing, which was initially slated for two days, being the 15th and 16th of July 2020, but which effectively ran till 20th of the month, only for him to decide, at his own pace and time, to recuse himself from the hearing, on the last day, an action which cast a dark shade on the entire public.
“This is because, the same reason for which he recused himself on the last day was enough for him to steer clear from the matter, ab initio. The foregoing points to a clear fact that the Committee set out to do a bidding, that was never in the interest of the public. They obviously needed a public hearing to tell the public what they wanted the public to hear, rather than the facts of the matter.
“The Spokesperson the House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, on a National Television Programme, recently, admitted publicly, that Contractors often approached Chairmen of the House Committees and the members, to use their office to compel MDAs to pay them. This definitely should be the new height of the abuse of the oath of office they swore, not to allow their personal interest interfere with the discharge of their official duties.
“Recall that since these allegations were first made by the Acting Executive Director, Projects, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh on National Television, Hon. Olubumni Tunji-Ojo has not deemed it fit to discountenance the allegations by way of a law suit”.
DRC gets $7.5m additional US aid to combat Ebola
The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing more than $7.5 million in additional humanitarian assistance to help end the 11th outbreak of Ebola in Équateur Province in Northwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The funding also will support Ebola survivors and maintain a rapid-response capacity in Eastern DRC, where the DRC’s 10th outbreak, also the second-largest outbreak of the disease in history was declared over in June 2020. The U.S. Government remains the DRC’s principal partner in countering Ebola: USAID has provided nearly $350 million since August 2018, including for preparedness and response activities in the DRC and neighboring countries. The funding announced today is in addition to contributions from other U.S. Departments and Agencies and the U.S. private sector.
Through USAID’s NGO and UN partners on the ground, the United States is scaling up to providing life-saving assistance in Northwestern DRC’s Équateur Province, where a new outbreak of Ebola was declared on June 1. This assistance includes support for the deployment of rapid-response teams to remote areas, surveillance for cases of the disease, and treatment facilities. Additionally, this assistance will help survivors facing stigmatization, as well as fund continued engagement with communities on prevention and post-outbreak training on safe and dignified burials.
The U.S. Government is the largest-single bilateral donor to the response to Ebola in the DRC. U.S. support and expertise played a major role in helping the Government of the DRC and its partners bring an end to Ebola outbreaks across the country, including the recent epidemic in South Kivu and Ituri Provinces. USAID’s Disaster-Assistance Response Team, made up of disaster and health experts, continues to work with the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, humanitarian partners, and the Government of the DRC to help contain the latest outbreak and bring it under control.
Stopping the spread of Ebola requires a concerted, unified effort from the international community – all in close partnership with the Government of the DRC and affected local populations. USAID strongly encourages other donors to provide additional financial and technical support to help end the outbreak in Équateur Province.
Life after Covid-19; Lessons and Prospects-Aregbe Idris
According to an old adage, ‘in every challenge there is an opportunity’. In crises situations the human mind is usually open to new thinking and new ways of doing things once thought impossible or too bold to imagine. The world has witnessed a spate of innovations on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic, which also brings another well-worn saying to mind, that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’.
The COVID-19 crisis has not only been disruptive, but has created a “big reset” as the rapid changes taking place will last for years to come.
In just a few months, the world has changed, with the advent of the pandemic, rendering humans, economies, social life weak and fragile in a ravaging wave of viral global attack.
However, the crises has also offered some vital lessons in human existence going forward; lessons which are a mixed bag of the good, the bad and the ugly.
For the good, the pandemic brought out the humanity in a whole lot of people, who hitherto may not have known they possess the milk of kindness, helping one another in a time of dire need. It also extended to nations, laying differences aside to come to the aid of others needing help. The pandemic showed that humanity can indeed stay in peace, with even warring nations, or warring factions within nations all sheathing their swords to face a common enemy with one resolve. Humanity seemed far more connected than ever before the crisis. Every single story has been that of courage, collaboration, and action.
The importance of savings was brought to the fore, especially for the rainy day, which COVID-19 happened to be. Nigerians lack a savings culture and more people were financially caught off-guard by the pandemic. Given the fact that in this part of the world, savings is observed more in the breach, it only made a bad situation worse.
With the lockdown of economic activities occasioned by the crises, though now gradually being relaxed globally, working online has become quite comely and profitable for a number of firms. Going digital has become imperative with several companies urgently doing a digital transformation; involving tools, norms, culture, and behaviors.
Remote work has become a ‘new normal’ with a number of companies adopting the novel way to work. It has also opened up the prospect of having physically challenged people, many of whom are wizards in their vocation, but who up until now were mostly found unfit for regular work employment by a host of firms, now a very viable option for employment, with the prospect of increased quality and work output.
Online learning is also becoming a convenient alternative for a number of schools, that are providing tutorials for pupils and students all over the world; a defining experience in education going forward. People have learnt how to use their phones for multiple functions, they most likely would not have cared to before the pandemic; with many already profiting therefrom.
COVID-19 exposed some chinks in our armor as a nation, with particular reference to the great despondency birthed by a lack of health infrastructure and capacity to deal with seen and unforeseen health crises. There is a global consensus that human, health, and safety issues are paramount. This has manifested in subtle ways during this pandemic, with the shaking of hands going extinct, social distancing in every circle of human endeavor, wearing of face masks, etc.,
Preventing diseases is better than having to try and cure them. The pandemic has forced us to think about our mortality more than at any other time. It reminds us how important certain health safety nets are, especially in dire circumstances.
People are forcibly faced with the fear of death, making the place of health one important lesson to be taken from all of these.
To have a well-designed and functioning health system demands a deliberate policy and effort. It requires a large amount of investment and long-term planning. In 2001, African leaders pledged to invest around 15% of their budgets in health. Sadly by 2020, only five countries have fulfilled this promise, excluding Nigeria.
Seeing how we reacted to the COVID-19 outbreak shows just how little prepared we were for this pandemic. This is why it is crucial to take seriously the need to begin working at a comprehensive health system in the country. This is not for the benefit of the poor masses but for the benefit of all, as lessons from COVID-19 have offered. The situation could have been different with some high-profile deaths in the country of the disease.
Africa’s poor pharmaceutical capacity has been a source of ridicule, especially by foreigners, and no better time to address this anomaly than now. Bangladesh, a poorer country than many African countries, produces 97% of the national demand for medicines, in contrast to Africa which is almost 100% dependent on imports.
Things just have to change. The health sector in Africa and Nigeria particularly, should be strengthened by COVID-19. This is a decision that can no longer be postponed.
Crisis response is another big lesson from the pandemic. Crises response is something that our country will have to urgently embrace going forward. The COVID-19 pandemic is a Black Swan for African nations, as it speaks to health and the economy.
Even when there was a willingness by some states and the Federal Government to provide palliatives to cushion the effects of the disease, the lack of a comprehensive data base, was inimical to the exercise.
A continent feared for the worst in the pandemic, Africa was still deprived access to COVID-19 essentials, given the excessive global demand, which relegated it to the back of the queue. This is an early warning and lesson for Africa. Nigeria as with a host of African nations, needs to have in place social protection systems to mitigate the suffering of the continent’s most disadvantaged, especially in times of crises .
Coming on the back of the pandemic was a crash in global oil prices, which made nonsense of the country’s budget, passed less than two months earlier, once again pointing to the important lesson of agriculture as the mainstay of the country’s economy.
According to The African Development Bank (AfDB), Africa will lose between $35 and $100 billion due to the fall in raw material prices caused by the pandemic, while the World Economic Forum (WEF) puts the continent’s global losses at $275 billion, which all show that Africa’s inequality gap will worsen in the coming years.
There will be layoffs, restructuring, and many difficult financial and human decisions ahead. Indeed, there will be many difficult decisions to make. But there must be plans in place for “things going wrong” as part of our everyday life going forward.
In the aftermath of the pandemic, the world’s social, economic and political resilience is surely going to be tested. Leaders will have to rethink many prior assumptions and find new balances for individual and collective behaviour.
As terrible as COVID-19 has been, we have to recognize that this may be the new normal. It may not be out of place to say that “Black Swan” events are here to stay, considering also the continuous looming impact of global warming and sea water rise, for example.
As a nation, we must be deliberately be geared in readiness for responses to other future threats that have equal or greater potential for disruption. The present pandemic provides us the opportunity to once again take a peek into the causes of our underdevelopment and come up with strategic and in-depth approaches to human development, digitalization, industrialization and economic diversification.
Needless to say that opportunities will also emerge, with innovative minds enervated to the challenges that we collectively face, if the will to move forward is mustered and sustained, with lessons learnt from COVID-19.
Everyone can make a difference in the fight against Covid 19 pandemic – Aregbe Idris
Coronavirus came like a bolt from the blues. No one saw it coming, and even where scientists predicted an ominous pandemic, governments that have always been at the forefront of nipping such potential disasters in the bud, were numbed by exertions and postulations of superiority on political and economic terrains.
There is no doubt that economies are hibernating, interest rates have fallen to lowest possible levels, millions of jobs are projected to be lost, people are dying in rates only comparable to wartime situations, families and friends are being separated, the best hospitals and health tech facilities in the world are crumbling under the weight of overflowing casualties. All over the world the figures are increasing and here in Nigeria we listen to updates twice daily with frayed nerves.
A partial lockdown in our dear Lagos came into force a week before a total lockdown was announced by President Buhari to begin Monday March 30, 2020. With 19 states of the Federation affected by the virus, different States have adopted different measures at curtailing economic activities. Some are on partial lockdown, some have imposed curfews, while some are even opening up their economies. The reality of the lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja has gradually played out in more ways than imagined or thought of, as more and more Nigerians find it excruciating staying locked in their homes with no food to eat and other essential needs, no water, even with its dire necessity at this time, and the traditional epileptic power supply which otherwise could have kept people more comfortable and also abreast with crucial information in the Covid-19 fight.
In the face of the lockdown, there have been agitations where people have expressed their annoyance with the government for ordering a lockdown without appropriate cushions to mitigate its effects.The worst part of the lockdown perhaps is the reported cases of daylight looting by miscreants and robbery by night marauders, incidents which have rocked parts of Lagos and Ogun States, turning residents into vigilante groups at night to ward off robbers, leaving others with one eye open while asleep.
These acts of thievery are totally unacceptable and must not be condoned, even with the fact that palliatives and other measures announced to cushion the stricture of the lockdown by the Federal Government are hardly felt by the larger society, over 70% of whom work in the informal sector and have to fend daily for their survival. The situation also underscores the urgent need to put quite a few things right in our country, and in alignment with acceptable global standards; for example, our health care facilities; which remain in deplorable condition with a long string of successive governments. It is time to seriously ponder automating processes of governance in the country. If the country had a comprehensive data base, at a time of emergency such as now, it would have made for easier, methodical and successful planning and implementation of whatever palliatives to dish out before locking down the country or more specifically the states locked down. As it were however, with an extension of the lockdown for another two weeks until April 27th, and with the waning hope of most Nigerians on the Federal Government to provide any reasonable relief, it does not cut a comfortable picture.
The Lagos State government’s palliatives was way ahead and a good intention it must be said. The Sanwo-Olu government has been the at the forefront of the fight and the model other governments have emulated in the Covid-19 fight. Indeed the effort of the Lagos State governor and his team in trying to ameliorate the bite of the lockdown must be commended, perhaps with little reservation in quantity and the manner of distribution.
At this point it is imperative to note that this fight goes beyond the government. The food distributors themselves and everyone involved in midwifing palliatives to the people must be honest and selfless in their approach and do the right thing, the right way. The effort of Nigerians at showing care and love is praiseworthy, even though the intention of some is just to get attention. In any case, It is not just a fight that demands support from only the Otedolas’ Dangotes’, Alakijas’ the Adenugas’ or Elumelus’ but also from the Yahayas’, Demolas’, the Uches’, Yetundes’etc. It demands all hands to be on deck. Every community has varying levels of wealthy people; while some have truly been showing care and love, more others need to be compassionate to the poor lot around them, as well as those who may not be considered poor but are in dire straits at this moment due to the pandemic.
Throughout history, every lifetime comes with its peculiar crisis or challenge, often requiring the efforts and contributions of every citizen to overcome. Covid-19 happens to be the crisis we face today, which requires the patriotic zeal of every Nigerian in the effort to put it behind us and move on with our normal lives. It may be likened to watching a horror movie, patiently waiting for ‘the end. Everyone is in a certain degree of fear and no one knows when it will end. That ending requires everyone to step up and contribute their quota and help in taking this war headlong.
While over 70% of Nigerians live from hand-to-mouth on less than $1 daily, many workers in the semi-private and SME’s sectors are yet to be paid their wages for March, as some employers are taking cover under the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, these people cannot stock up on food or other essentials, which all project deep concerns about the financial implications of the lockdown.
It is important to note that every country has different structures and capacities, and are also being hit by the virus in different ways, with some highly hit and some not as bad. Many nations of the world have risen from the desolation of adversity to attain remarkable heights of greatness. This pandemic being a time of solitude and introspection for many, without doubt offers a world of lessons to individual citizens as well as leaders and governments, but it might well be said that, only the wise ones however, will be able to pull out some lessons from this unprecedented disaster.
It is a time different people are taking solace from different things to stay happy. While some find happiness with their phones, some cannot even turn on their phones. While some cannot afford data, some others are dealing with network and other related issues. While some don’t mind staying indoors, others love it out in the daylight. Much as some would prefer physical engagement with people, others find the isolation a time for reflections and re-arranging their priorities. It’s just a case of different folks, different strokes.
There are businesses that are making great profit at this time as well as those which are grounded. I have been in touch with a number of people in the last three weeks and I know friends who can afford to eat more than three square meals daily and others who are having difficulty having one per day. I have spoken with some friends to whom N500 means a lot to at this time and to others to whom N50,000 is nothing to. I have seen families left in anguish with nothing to fall back on, worsened by the fact that they cannot step out. I see 24 hours running like 72 hours daily.
Apparently a lot of people are increasingly getting despondent. It is therefore a time that well meaning individuals, corporate and responsible citizens should show some level of responsibility, in complementing government’s efforts at defeating this enemy, not just for the government, but for us all.
Our campaign at staying home and staying safe implies a directive for people with homes. However, how about those without homes? These people are also our brothers and sisters who need our support and help, and there couldn’t be a more opportune time for that than now.
As an nation, we must rise up and help ourselves. It is not the fight of the government alone. The government has set the ball rolling so, we must stand firm, continuing to follow all given directives to ensure a successful curbing of the virus; we should reach out in genuine love to one another. This goes beyond just donating money to the government, but also looking and touching areas that the lives of ordinary Nigerians could be impacted the most. You might just be doing it for your own good.
As Mrs Ibukun Awosika, who has also stepped out on this issue rightly coins it, “every one of us holds a piece of what is required to build the right world where we can all survive.”
That piece in your hand might just be the needed bit to make the difference in lives of the needy at this challenging time.
I dearly hope that we’ll learn some lessons in the aftermath of this pandemic and become even more united than ever. I also use this opportunity to implore security operatives drafted to enforce the lockdown not to get trigger-happy or assault innocent Nigerians who are going through a lot right now, but to remain friendly while carrying out their lawful assignment.
We’re all in this together, Together we’ll end this pandemic, Together we’ll be stronger, Together we can reset our our minds on the paths of genuine patriotism, and Together in love against Covid-19, victory is sure.
Once again, I am Aregbe Idris, willing and PLAYING MY PART; PLAY YOURS!
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